A perfect day in Paris

Paris Travel Blog

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Mary is very excited about lunch at Le Pain Quotidien (naturally; it is full of love)
I was very nervous about going to Paris again. It had been almost exactly four years since I’d been there before, and there’s a big difference between going to Europe for the first time when you’re 17, and going to Paris when you’re 21 after living in Europe for seven months with a lot of life experience behind you. As the plane from Rome started descending into Orly, Mary and I looked out the window and were surprised at how much we could see... just as I had four years before, I was the first to spot the Eiffel Tower out the plane window, and knew by my excitement of seeing that silly building that the magic of Paris would not be lost on me.
The big head by St. Eustache that MAYBE is the center of Paris.
Even though I’d had a very full four years of life, I still held that silly romanticism for this city that I knew would probably never leave me.

I was reeeaaalllly hungry when we got off the plane and tried to get something quick inside the airport... but everyone was getting in line in front of me, and I was tired and cranky, so we just left to figure out how to take the metro to our hotel. Everyone else was waiting in line in the ticket counter, but we realized we could just use the machine and saved a lot of time. We took the RER and then switched to a line that would take us to Les Halles. When we got above ground, a guy with an accordion got on our car and started playing for money.
Enjoying the lovely day
I was SOOOO excited!!!! It was so ridiculously perfect... BUT, everyone around me (the real French people) seemed slightly annoyed, and so I tried to pretend like I didn’t like it. There was a really cute French guy sitting across from me, and I didn’t want to look like a tourist and embarrass myself (not that the big bags weren’t probably a dead giveaway....)... and the sun was shining, and Paris was looking sooo beautiful.... I almost cried. I was very thankful for the accordion man.

We got off the metro at Les Halles and went up years of escalators. When we got off, Mary was kind of confused because she hadn’t been there in a long time. It took us a really long time to get to the hotel because we had to drag our bags and there were a lot of people out.
Saint Eustache
The weather was very, very nice though, and I was still silly and wide-eyed looking around at Paris after a four year wait.

The hotel we were staying in was a hotel that Mary had stayed in when she lived in Paris for a summer a few years ago called the Hotel Bellevue, OR, Chariot d’Or. It’s gotta have two names, apparently. It was pretty old. Not in the greatest condition. The elevator was very old and had two doors like in the movies. We were staying on the sixth floor, though, so we used the old elevator a lot. There was no shower in the bathroom, just a big maroon bathtub and a thing you had to hold to wash yourself... and no shower curtain, so the water got everywhere. Apparently this is typical for France, however. And the bidet, which I still don’t quite understand.
LOTS of people enjoying the afternoon outside St. Eustache... lots of people were drawing or painting . It was lovely.
.. I mean, I understand its purpose, but not how one could possibly prefer that... cultural differences, I suppose. We had our own room, though, which was good. It was nice to be able to spread out and relax after the hostel.

I was still really hungry because we hadn’t eaten since the free breakfast at 6AM in Rome. We had settled in the city at that awkward time between lunch and dinner, but I was about to die from hunger. We walked around a LOT in La Marais, which is the area we were staying in (which is somehow both the gay district AND the Jewish district...?) and fought about where to go eat... some places looked surprisingly crowded... lots of people smoking that we wanted to sit away from... One Rue Montorgueil, which is an amazing street, and we found this little place that looked pretty rustic and didn’t have hardly anyone in it.
Beautiful fleurs by the Seine
It was called Le Pain Quotidien, and it turned out to be the happiest thing ever. Mary and I sat there for a very long time enjoying the afternoon. We got a bottle of cassis juice, a tartine (open-faced sandwiches, their specialty) with avocado, tomato, carrots, and chicken, and a lunch special with carrot soup, a garden salad, and a ham and cheese tartine.... I think.... but it was GOOD though... all the food tasted really fresh... so delicious... reminded me a lot of how we eat at home (fresh produce, lots of organic stuff). They also gave us a big basket of bread, since this restaurant is also a bakery, with oil and vinegar that they also make there, and that was also delicious. It was an absolutely perfect lunch. We sat right be the window in the sun and watched the children getting out of school.
Good old Notre Dame. I have SO many pictures of this from my visit before, but I couldn't resist.
We sat in there for SUCH a long time. It was wonderful. I could have cried.

We walked down Montorgueil, and Mary showed me all the restaurants on Rue Monmartre that Mary and her friends had worked at a few summers before. Some of them had changed, as happens in big cities, and I think it was a really nostalgic thing for her. Then we made our way to Saint Eustache and sat in the courtyard with the big head in it. I guess that big head is supposed to mark the “very center of Paris,” as is is in the first arrondissement, or so we had heard. The weather was sooo beautiful.

Then we went on a mission. A very important mission. To get gelato. Mary told me that there was the best gelato she’d ever had (even better than what we had just had in Italy).
A shot from the side of Notre Dame
Since I’m cursed with a mouth full of sweet teeth, I was definitely down for finding gelato.

So we walked to Les Halles, and the to and down the Seine. We walked through this street right across the sun on the right bank that was lined with floral shops. Another perfect moment. Paris is full of this. We made our way to Île Saint Louis, one of the two islands in the middle of the Seine, which I didn’t realize were islands. We passed Notre Dame, a random tiny park, and a lot of expensive clothing stores. I really love this area, though. We were really tired from all the walking and so we went and sat at Notre Dame in the gardens on its side. It was perfect again. Everything in Paris is perfect. MAN...

But, of course, our mission was not to be forgotten.
Where Mary and I enjoyed a nice sit.
Continuing on, we walked by Berthillon, and I asked her if that was the place we were looking for. The line was out the door and there were a huge list of flavors outside. Apparently this place has the reputation of being the “best ice cream in Paris.” Mary told me that she had been there, and this was incorrect, and that we had to keep walking. The expectations were getting higher. This street was awesome and had a lot of neat little specialty shops. Finally we arrived at Amorino. It looked like any normal gelato, but Mary was freaking out. We decided to share a moyen with half fraise and half nutella gelato....... Ok. SERIOUSLY I cannot explain to you how good this stuff is. Mary was totally right on. This was better than any gelato or ice cream I had ever had.
And I have had a lot of ice cream. It was love in my mouth. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Seriously, one of the very best things I’ve ever ever ever ever eaten.

After the Amorino was all gone (so sad), I vowed we would go back every day. We wandered slowly through the city back to our hotel, as we were very tired. Before stopping back in the hotel we went to the Monoprix down the street (French supermarket) and got some bits of food to last us between expensive meals. Well, I don't know if chocolate croissants and chocolate Prince cracker/cookie things count as real food, but whatever. Then laid around the hotel for a minute to take a break, and “freshened up,” as Mary likes to say, to go out to dinner.

For dinner we went back to Rue Montorgueil because it had brought us good luck before. We ate at a place across the street from where we ate lunch called Cafe de Commerce, or something like that. We couldn’t remember exactly. Anyway, dinner here was fabulous, again. We sat outside in order to avoid as much smoke as possible (even though they have apparently passed non-smoking laws in Paris, you wouldn’t know it). Dinner was served quickly and was absolutely delicious. Mary got duck, and I got lamb (two typical French dishes) with some delicious mashed potato thing on top. Really, really satisfying. We shared.

We went to bed early since we hadn’t had much sleep the day before.

Overall, I was very, very happy to be in Paris.

emmllerg says:
Enjoy your next vacation to Paris
Posted on: Jun 02, 2013
lalitsingh99 says:
Interesting account of your Paris travel. Cant wait to read more. Made me rem the time when i went to paris in Dec 05. Much would have changed in the time being, but i am catching up on that plus some more through ur trvaelogues.
Keep travelling!!
Posted on: Sep 12, 2007
londonstudent says:
That brings back memories! A friend used to have a flat on Rue Montorgueil, and I stayed with him a few years ago. It's absolutely my favourite district of Paris! There was a restaurant next-door-but-one that served the most wonderful profiteroles that you could ever wish for ...
Posted on: Jul 02, 2007
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Mary is very excited about lunch a…
Mary is very excited about lunch …
The big head by St. Eustache that …
The big head by St. Eustache that…
Enjoying the lovely day
Enjoying the lovely day
Saint Eustache
Saint Eustache
LOTS of people enjoying the aftern…
LOTS of people enjoying the after…
Beautiful fleurs by the Seine
Beautiful fleurs by the Seine
Good old Notre Dame. I have SO man…
Good old Notre Dame. I have SO ma…
A shot from the side of Notre Dame
A shot from the side of Notre Dame
Where Mary and I enjoyed a nice si…
Where Mary and I enjoyed a nice s…
photo by: Sweetski